Tie-dying shirts with kids is one of my favorite boredom busters. It’s not as messy or complicated as I remember, and my children feel a sense of creativity and accomplishment. Grab some old t-shirts, go outside, and have a blast. Follow these steps to tie dye shirts with kids including 3 easy tie-dye patterns that even preschoolers and toddlers can do!
How to Tie Dye Shirts With Kids
Here’s what you’ll need to get started to tie dye shirts (or anything) with your kids! Not only is it a fun summer project, but tie dye shirts are great for parties or party favors. Also, when at home, it’s a great activity to get away from the screens for a little while.
Plus my family has tried many tie dye patterns and methods, and these are the 3 easiest tie dye patterns for kids.
This is the more traditional way to tie dye, but the Ice Tie Dye Method is also fun!
Supplies To Tie Dye Shirts
T-shirts (I like white, but you can use other colors for a different look)
Dye (Pick up a kit or just the dye at your local retailer) I like the Tulip brand.
Something to cover your work area (Because, kids!)
Plastic Ziploc Bags
Tips to Tie Dye with Kids
I chose to work outside, because a spillage of dye outside makes for a less crabby mom than a spillage of dye inside the house. A plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Store did the trick, some kits come with a plastic cover already, or you can use plastic garbage bags.
I showed the kids some options of patterns they could make that came with the instructions, and these are the 3 tie dye designs they wanted to make. The crumple pattern is probable the easiest tie dye pattern that any kid can make!
If you choose to work indoors, I wouldn’t go near carpet, but a big table could also work.
Tie Dye Tip: I recommend washing a shirt first (and drying with no dryer sheet) as it helps the dye soak in easier.
Have the kids wear gloves if possible before they start applying the dye.
Then fill up your dye bottles with water and shake to get all the powder mixed through. Be careful when taking off the lids of the dye, because once you shake, sometimes pressure is built in, and the dye will splatter a bit.
Tie Dye Tip #2: If you want the dye to really soak through the shirt, you can also wet the shirt before applying dye.
Here are the tie dye patterns my kids chose:
How to Tie Dye Shirts In A Swirl Pattern
Probably the most common tie dye pattern is a swirl.
1. Lay the t-shirt flat.
2. Pinch the fabric in the center.
3. Begin twisting the fabric in a circular motion and continue until all of the fabric is in a spiral shape. As you get to the end, the fabric won’t naturally just lay in the spiral. That’s okay.
4. Secure the spiral with rubber bands into wedges. I either do 6 or 8 wedges.
5. Apply the dye to the fabric.
If you want less white, make sure the dye gets into the folds of the wedges.
I let my daughter choose whatever colors she wanted to put next to each other. I had my opinions, and I was proud of myself for not voicing them. This is an easy project to let kids make their own decisions.
How to Make a Bullseye Pattern for Tie Dye Shirts
1. Lay the shirt flat.
2. Pinch a piece of fabric in the center and tie it with a rubber band.
3. Tie another rubber band a little further down and make a line shape.
4. Apply the dye to the fabric.
How to Tie Dye in a Crumple Pattern
1. Lay the shirt flat.
2. Scrunch fabric together.
3. Apply dye.
The crumple pattern is probably the easiest method, because you literally just bunch up the fabric. Even I can’t mess that up! Perfect for little kids who want to get in on the tie dye fun, and no rubber bands are needed.
Wrap, Let Sit, Rinse
After you are finished applying the dye (if there are white spots left on the shirt, then that’s where you’ll have white as part of your pattern), I drop the shirts in a bag, seal it, and leave it to dry overnight.
Six hours is probably enough, but I just leave mine overnight, so I can wash the tie dye shirts in the morning and really let the dye set in.
If you want bolder, brighter colors, then let it sit overnight. If you want lighter colors, then 5-6 hours will work.
How to Wash a Tie Dye Shirt
After you’ve let your shirts set, rinse off the dye until the water runs clear while taking off the rubber bands if you used rubber bands for your design.
Now time to wash and dry your shirt! I wash them in the washing machine on a delicate cycle and do not add other clothing.
Go ahead and dry them in the dryer.
Now it’s time to wear your tie dye shirts proudly and show off your creations!
These kids were so proud of their tie dye shirts I looked away when some dye got on their legs and arms. I didn’t offer unsolicited advice. Most importantly, I was beaming with pride at their creativity.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to tie dye shirts with kids. You can try these DIY Avengers Tie Dye shirts, too!
For more summer fun, try these other 20 Summer Activities with kids!